The holidays are quickly approaching, and the thought of what might trigger an IBS episode may be causing you some stress. As someone with IBS, I know what it is like to feel anxious about going to a family or friend's house for holiday gatherings.
There are so many thoughts that can go through your mind when eating away from home:
❓ “Where is the bathroom?” ❓
❓“My stomach keeps growling, I hope people can’t hear!” ❓
❓“There are so many foods I want to eat, but know they probably won’t make me feel good.” ❓
When you have IBS there are so many thoughts that swirl through your head, and so much worry that can come. However, there are some simple strategies you can use to minimize stress and manage IBS, during the holidays.
Here are some uncomplicated ways to get started:
🍏 MANAGE STRESS
Stress can make IBS worse, so establishing stress management techniques is important. Try journaling, breathwork, physical activity, or counseling to work through your stress triggers. Find one or a few ways that will help you manage stress; only through trying different things will you find what works best. Everyone is different! 👉🏼Need a bit more support? Get psychology counselling support here.
🍏 ENJOY YOURSELF
Avoid all or none thinking and be gentle on yourself. Remember to keep some meals low FODMAP with a mixture of meals or snacks that are higher in FODMAPS. You can enjoy yourself!
🍏 CHECK IN
Watch how you are feeling by checking-in with your hunger. Skipping meals can make IBS symptoms worse, so try to stay on schedule with your mealtimes.
🍏 CONTRIBUTE TO THE MEAL
Bring a dish or two that are low FODMAP safe to your family gathering. It is always nice to contribute to gatherings and what better way to make sure you can have something to eat. You can find some great ideas here.
🍏 MAKE A PLAN
Plan ahead if you are traveling and make an itinerary for meals and snacks. The more unplanned your trip is, the bigger the risk is of getting hungry and not caring. Take snacks that are low FODMAP like fody foods or enjoy life.
🍏 RESEARCH OPTIONS
If you will be eating at restaurants during your holidays, research the restaurant. Search the restaurant's menu for potential low FODMAP options and modify meals at restaurants if at all possible.
🍏 MAINTAIN ROUTINE
Maintain your bowel routine. Be mindful of your fibre and water intake, and take your probiotics. Stay active during the holidays to support your bowels and prop your feet when you go to the bathroom. Continue to do the same things you would at home. Get my top 5 tips for bowel routine!
While being away from home can cause some additional stress and anxiety when you have IBS, these tips can help you navigate through it. Remember that it's okay to not be "perfect" and learn how to be okay with that. Food is meant to be enjoyed, especially when we are celebrating with family and friends.